If you’re thinking of applying to VIPKID, you probably already know about the mock class.
It’s an essential part of the application process, and the good news is that it’s not as scary as it seems.
In this article, we’re going to break down what the mock class looks like. We’re also going to give you some essential tips about preparing for it to help you ace it and become a VIPKID teacher faster!
Note that VIPKID’s mock class procedure changed in September 2018. This post discusses the mock class process now.
What is the VIPKID Mock Class?
The mock class is perhaps the most essential part of training if you want to teach English online for VIPKID: it helps determine whether or not you’ll be hired by the company, and it also has a role in determining your base salary for VIPKID.
It’s an opportunity to practice your teaching skills using VIPKID’s platform with a certified VIPKID teacher, and to make sure that you’re fully ready to teach before you enter the classroom with a real student.
Look at it as an opportunity to improve your teaching skills and fully prepare to become a VIPKID teacher rather than an exam to be graded on!
You’ll take the mock class after you complete your application, interview, and demo.
If you don’t do a totally amazing job on your first mock class, don’t worry: you can take the mock class multiple times!
And here’s the best part: no matter how you do on your mock class, once you’ve gotten to this point in the hiring process you will get hired as a VIPKID teacher. You can take the mock class infinite times, and you’re guaranteed employment once you finish the phase no matter what!
So congratulations on making it this far!
What Does the Mock Class Look Like?
Your VIPKID mock class will take place with a current VIPKID teacher, who will act as a student while you teach and then grade you on your performance.
The teacher will also answer any questions you might have and give you feedback immediately after you finish teaching.
Their feedback (and their availability to answer any questions) is enormously helpful, so be sure to have a pen and paper handy so you can jot down notes when you’re talking to them before and after you teach!
Breakdown of the Mock Class
The mock class is 25 minutes long in total.
The First Few Minutes
You’ll spend a bit introducing yourself and chatting with your “student”. You can also ask them any questions you want during that time, including any questions you might have about how to teach the lesson.
The lesson will last 10 minutes long (15 minutes for Mock II). During that time, you’ll teach part of a VIPKID lesson that you’ve prepared ahead of time.
After your ten minutes of teaching are up, the interviewer will review the lesson with you and go over what you can improve on.
What Will You Teach in the Mock Class?
Once you’ve passed your interview, you’ll be able to enter the Certification Center and choose which level you want to do your mock class in. Completing your mock class will certify you to teach students at that level.
Don’t worry too much about which level you choose: you can always go back and get certified for other levels later.
After you’ve chosen which level you want to certify in, you’ll be given materials to prepare for two different mock classes at that level.
In addition to VIPKID’s materials, there are tons of videos online of teachers going through the mock lessons so you can see how they teach them and decide how you want to conduct your class.
You won’t find out which of the two lessons you’re teaching until your mock class begins, so it’s important to prepare for both of them just in case!
How Should You Prepare for the Mock Class?
The mock class tests you on whether or not you’re ready to be a VIPKID teacher.
So by the time your mock class rolls around, you should be fully prepared to teach. That means having your classroom set up and knowing how to interact with students and use the classroom.
Setting Up Your Classroom
Having your classroom ready means that you have a stable and fast Internet connection, headphones with a built-in microphone and a well-lit area to teach in.
It also means having a decorated teaching environment complete with a teaching backdrop, a reward system, and props you can use to illustrate concepts you’re teaching.
As you can see in the picture above, I have cutouts of Meg and Mike (two characters that appear in VIPKID lessons) near my computer. I also have props and illustrations for concepts that I take out to have on standby for certain lessons.
For example, if I’m teaching about animals, I’ll take out my toy cow and cutouts of horses and other animals in the lesson.
Your background doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Lots of teachers include maps or ABCs in their classrooms, but really you should do whatever works for you. The main thing is to make sure to have your name and your reward system visible.
As you can see in the picture below, my classroom setup includes my name, some simple colorful decorations, and my reward system, which is currently a flower (the petals are all Velcro so I can put them on when the student earns a point).
My reward system itself is Velcroed to the poster so that I can change it out depending on what I’m teaching.
You can make your reward system anything you want, and there are tons of ideas online if you can’t think of one!
My article about VIPKID teacher requirements has more information about what exactly you need to ace the mock class and become a VIPKID teacher — and it has pointers for making sure your lighting and Internet connection are up to snuff!
How Should You Conduct Your Mock Class?
Let’s get into the dirty details: how should you teach in your mock class to ensure that you pass?
In this section, I’ll break down …
Above all, be sure to be happy, enthusiastic, and engaging in your mock class. That means big smiles, positive encouragement, and lots of big body movements.
You want to make your students feel welcomed and safe in class, not like they’ll be judged if they make a mistake.
A big part of positive encouragement only is not saying “no”. When the student makes mistakes, don’t say “no”. If they’ve said something that’s not correct English or answered a question wrong, simply model the right answer, cue them to try saying it the right way, and move on.
Make Yourself Easy to Understand
Remember that your students are not native English speakers, and some of them may have little to no English at all.
You have to make it easy for all students to understand you, no matter what their English levels may be.
…By Making Your Voice Heard
One way to make yourself understood more easily is with your voice.
You should slow down your speech and enunciate every word to help students pay attention and comprehend more easily. You can modulate how you speak depending on what level of students you’re teaching.
If you’re teaching students at a very low level, it’s important to speak extremely slowly and clearly.
It’s also important not to pepper your speech with anything extra. Rather than explaining things using language they might not understand, simply jump into activities and make sure to use simple language that won’t confuse them.
If you’re teaching more advanced students, you can speak more normally — just gauge their understanding and be sensitive to it rather than speaking according to how much you think they should comprehend.
…By Using Nonverbal Cues
Use teaching tools and body language to illustrate what you’re saying, especially when you’re teaching younger students.
The best way to do this is by using TPR, or total physical response. This means illustrating your words with body language and hand motions and using body motions to give instructions rather than saying them out loud.
If you want the student to circle something on the screen, draw a circle with your finger. Cup your ear when you want them to speak, and put your finger on your chin pointing at your mouth when you’re speaking.
Your grader will be looking to make sure you use TPR, so be sure to incorporate it throughout your lesson.
The other nonverbal tool you can use is props.
Stuffed animals, paper cutouts, and other objects will help you explain what vocabulary means and illustrates concepts! And your grader will definitely be happy to see that you’ve prepared materials to accompany the slides.
VIPKID classes run on strict time parameters, and it’s important for teachers to finish all the material in each lesson during class time so that students don’t fall behind.
For that reason, it’s important for you to show that you can stick to time parameters during your mock lesson.
Try to teach about a slide a minute: it’s a good idea to set up a timer on your phone and put it next to your computer during your mock class to make sure that you’re sticking to the time frame.
Watching other teachers teach the mock lessons in YouTube videos will also help you get a good idea of how to pace your lesson.
Watch Out for Mistakes
Your teacher trainer will be checking to make sure that you’re an effective teacher, which involves being able to spot and correct any mistakes your student makes.
In the mock class, your trainer will make some obvious mistakes on purpose. Be on the lookout for grammar and pronunciation errors, and when your “student” makes them be sure to correct them (without saying “no”) immediately.
You should also always encourage your student to speak in full sentences.
Make corrections gently but promptly.
Let the Student Speak
VIPKID is all about helping students learn English, so it’s important to make sure that they have ample opportunity to speak during class instead of just lecturing the whole time.
With more advanced students, you should shoot for a 70:30 student-to-teacher talking ratio. With beginning students, aim for a 50:50 ratio.
Of course, it can be hard to gauge exactly how much time your student is spending talking, but you can make sure to hit your ratio by having your student read as much of what’s on the screen as possible instead of reading it to them (even when the teacher instructions on the side of the screen say you should read it to them).
Extend, Extend, Extend
Extending is another great way to get your student talking more, and it also shows that you have flexibility as a teacher. Extending simply means adding on to slides and fitting the lesson to your student more.
The first way you should extend is by having some free talk at the beginning of class. Ask your student a few questions about themselves, modulating the question to fit their level.
I always open lessons by asking students what their name is and how they’re doing. Then I do a few other questions to warm them up before starting class.
Good Intro Questions
- How old are you?
- What’s your favorite color?
- What city are you from?
- What’s your favorite animal?
- What did you do today?
Throughout the lesson, you can also extend by asking the student additional questions. For example, if you’re learning the names of different aquatic animals, you can ask, “What’s your favorite aquatic animal?” or “Have you ever seen a manatee?”
Don’t stress out too much about extension — the way you extend doesn’t have to be anything special, just make sure to do a bit of it.
This one is obvious, but worth mentioning just in case. You should have gone through the slides before class so you’re not reading what’s on the side of them or figuring out how to teach them during class.
You should also look professional, with your hair combed and wearing a plain shirt with nothing on it.
Last, you should have some props and teaching tools at the ready by the side of your computer so you aren’t reaching for them throughout the class.
How are you Graded in the Mock Class?
Your mock class grade will be based on your performance in four areas:
- ESL Foundation
- VIPKID Techniques
- Teaching Practices
You can refer to the VIPKID Teacher Applicant Performance Indicator for a more in-depth look into the specifics of how you’re ranked.
A huge percentage of teachers need to do a second mock class after their first one, and some even need to do 3 or more mock classes.
Doing more than one mock class is not a big deal or a sign of failure: simply look at it as a chance to practice more.
I did two mock classes, and I taught ESL abroad for two years. And I have a friend who’s a classroom teacher who had to do two mock classes as well. So remember that doing more than one mock class doesn’t say anything about your teaching ability.
Mock 2 (and 3 and 4 and 5 …) look just the same as Mock 1, but in these ones you’ll be armed with the feedback you’ve gotten from your first mock class. Be sure to put the tips you get into practice in your next trial class!
Passing the mock class can definitely seem daunting, but it really doesn’t need to be.
Just keep calm, prepare, talk slow, and you’ll be great. And don’t forget to smile and use lots of body language!
If you’re still nervous about your mock class, remember that it’s only 10 minutes long. It’ll be over before you know it!
And if you have further questions about passing the mock class, please drop a comment below. I’m always happy to help another VIPKID teacher out!